Appeal court reversed the judgment of the Kebbi State governorship election tribunal

The Court of Appeal sitting in Sokoto State, yesterday, reversed  the judgment of the Kebbi State governorship election tribunal, which earlier nullified the election of Alhaji Usman Dakingari as governor.

The Justice Laraba Mohammed-led tribunal had on November 13,  2011 nullified Dakingari’s election and ordered a fresh election within 90 days.

Dissatisfied with the ruling, Dakingari approached the Appeal Court, challenging the decision of the tribunal.

Delivering judgment, Presiding judge, Justice Amiru Sanusi, ruled in favour of Dakingari and set aside the judgment of the lower tribunal.

Of the five issues raised as grounds of appeal, Justice Sanusi ruled three in favour and two against Dakingari.

The cross-appeal of Congress for Progressive Change, CPC and its gubernatorial candidate, Alhaji Abubakar Mallam, praying the appellate court to declare him as the duly elected governor of the state was dismissed for lack of merit.

Speaking separately, counsel of the CPC, Mr. Ogene Nero and Kebbi State CPC chairman, Alhaji Suleiman Nasiha, rejected the judgment, saying that they would appeal against it at the Supreme Court.

Lead counsel of the appellant, Mr. Yakubu Maikyau, SAN, accepted the verdict of the court.

 

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Jonathan Won April Poll Fair, Square – S’Court

The Supreme Court Wednesday in Abuja affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeal upholding the victory of President Goodluck Jonathan at last April’s presidential election.

In a unanimous decision, the apex court held that the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) failed to discharge the burden of proof placed upon it by the Electoral Act.
But the flag bearer of the CPC at the poll, Maj-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, has rejected the ruling and said he was disappointed that the apex court failed to use its powers to address the challenge of electoral irregularities.

The court said CPC failed to prove its allegation that the Independent National Election Commission (INEC) did not conduct the election according to the provisions of the law.
It also held that the allegation of non-compliance as alleged by the appellant, the CPC, was not proven and that the burden did not shift to the electoral body or any of the respondents to prove that the allegation of non-compliance was enough to have affected the outcome of the election.

In the lead judgment, which was read by Justice Olufunmilayo Adekeye, the court held that mere allegation of substantial non-compliance by the CPC did not automatically shift the burden to the respondents to prove that the outcome of the election was not affected by such non-compliance.

The court further held that the refusal by the trial court to allow the CPC swap witnesses’ depositions and which the party failed to appeal against took the wind out of their petition in that, there was no evidence in the acceptable format to support the party’s allegation of substantial non-compliance in the election.

Consequently, the court dismissed the appeal and affirmed the decision of the Court of Appeal which upheld the victory of Jonathan and Vice-President Namadi Sambo as winners of the last April’s presidential election.

In his reaction, CPC’s presidential candidate in the poll, Buhari, slammed the court for closing its eyes to the abuse of the electoral guidelines by INEC and decried the refusal of the electoral body to allow his party access to materials used by the commission in the conduct of the election to enable the party prove its allegation of malpractices during the election.

He blamed the violence which broke out in some states after the presidential election on such electoral malpractices and maintained that the Supreme Court, which ought to use its powers to address such, had chosen to look the other way in returning a verdict upholding the results of such a marred election. 

Excited by the judgment, Jonathan in his reaction said he welcomed the court’s declaration of his candidature as the validly elected President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

He said in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, that with the unanimous decision of the seven Justices of the Supreme Court, a final seal on litigations challenging his victory at the polls had been put on his mandate.

Jonathan congratulated Buhari for his faith in the Nigerian judiciary where he had gone to ventilate his grievances over the result of the poll and hope that having taken the contest of the result to the highest judicial level which vindicated his (Jonathan) victory, he (Buhari) would now rest his case.

The PDP also described the unanimous judgment as a vindication that the election was credible…(read more)

special Appeal court panel decided Uba’s case in just 24 hours

The five-man panel of the Court of Appeal that nullified Senator Andy Uba’s election, saturday, heard and decided the matter involving Anambra South Senatorial seat in about 24 hours.

The panel was constituted specifically to hear pending cases from controversial National Assembly elections held in Anambra State.

The members of the panel, according to Vanguard checks, were drawn from five different divisions of the appellate court with a mandate to handle the pending cases.

The panel was said to have arrived Enugu on Wednesday and sat throughout the day during which they heard about nine motions brought by various  counsels in the matter.

As learnt, efforts by Uba”s counsels to get the panel to do a thorough job since none of the members had the history of the matter were reportedly rebuffed.

The matter was concluded late Wednesday evening  with only the justices, lawyers and court clerks present.

S’ Court okays speedy trial of suit against Gov Orji

A five-man panel of justices of the Supreme Court, Thursday, okayed accelerated hearing on the suit seeking to sack Governor Theodore Orji of Abia State from office.

The suit was lodged before the apex court by a factional gubernatorial candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in the state, Chief Ikechi Emenike, who is challenging an Appeal Court judgment that affirmed Governor Orji as the authentic candidate of the party for the April 26 gubernatorial elections.

When the matter came up for hearing yesterday, counsel to the appellant, U.N Udechukwu, SAN, brought an application praying the apex court for abridgement of time as well as accelerated hearing on the matter.

Though PDP, which was represented in court by its national legal adviser, Chief Olusola Oke, and counsel to the governor, Mr Valentine Offia, did not oppose the application, however, they requested for time to file their response to the substantive appeal.

Consequently, in a short ruling delivered by the Supreme Court yesterday, it ordered all the parties to ensure that they filed and exchanged their briefs of arguments before the next adjourned date, January 16.

 

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Makurdi: Court dismisses Gov Suswam’s application

The governorship election petition tribunal sitting in Makurdi, on Thursday, dismissed the application of Governor Gabriel Suswam, urging the tribunal to strike out the petitions of opposition candidates for lack of merit and ordered the immediate commencement of re-trial.

The tribunal, however, adjourned till Monday, December 19, for the commencement of hearing of the petitions.

Governor Suswam had, through his counsel, urged the tribunal to strike out the petitions on the ground that the 180 days for entertaining the matter had elapsed.

The governorship candidates of All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) and Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), Professors Daniel Saror and Steve Ugba, had been on legal battle with the governor over the last April governorship election until the Supreme Court, a few weeks ago, ordered for the re-trial of the petitions, directing that the petitions should be heard on their merit.

The chairman of the tribunal, Justice Halima Mohammed, who read the ruling on Thursday said that the tribunal had to comply with the order of the apex court to re-try the petitions on their merit so as not to shut the door against the opposition parties.

Tribunal Dismisses Tinubu’s Objection

The National Assembly/Legislative House Election Petition Tribunal yesterday dismissed the preliminary objection raised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that the tribunal lacked jurisdiction to hear the application filed by the Labour Party (LP) call additional witnesses to testify in its petition challenging the election of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) candidate, Mrs. Oluremi Tinubu.

 

In his ruling, the Chairman of the tribunal, Justice A A Nwaigwe, noted that since it was INEC who raised the issue on non- submission of Labour Party candidate’s INEC Form EC 4B in its reply to the petition, there was need to call witnesses.

 

The tribunal said “We agree with the petitioner that is need to remove the cloud covering this aspect of the petition in the interest of justice by calling as witnesses those alleged to have taken part in the submission of the INEC Form”

 

“The petitioner has already filed the sworn deposition of the two witnesses, on the whole, we hold that the present application is meritorious and same is granted as prayed. Accordingly, leave is granted to the petitioner to add two additional witnesses’ statements on oath and call additional witnesses.”
The tribunal consequently granted LP leave to call additional witnesses to testify in its petition challenging the election of Tinubu.

 

The two additional witnesses are Ebere Ifendu and Dapo Durosinmi Etti.
The INEC, ACN and Tinubu, had asked the tribunal to either strike out/ dismiss the petition without going into the substantive issues in the petition.

 

But counsel to LP, Chief Chukwuma Ekomaru (SAN) had in a motion on notice dated June 20 sought leave of the tribunal to bring two additional witnesses.

 

But, lawyer to INEC, Mr. Wale Adetomiwa in it preliminary objection argued that the petitioner was out of time and should be denied the opportunity to call additional witnesses.

 

Also, counsel to Remi Tinubu, Mrs. Alonge in her submission urged the tribunal to dismiss the petition for being fundamentally defective and vesting no jurisdiction on the tribunal to adjudicate on.

 

The tribunal has fixed January 4 for adoption of written addresses and conclusion of hearing.

 

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The Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos, it would be recalled, had directed that the election petition filed by Labour Party (LP) challenging the decision of the tribunal be heard de novo (afresh) by a new Election Panel to be constituted by the President Court of Appeal.

2011 polls not perfect – Jega

Eight months after the conduct of the 2011 general elections, the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission, Prof. Attahiru Jega, on Thursday conceded that the polls were not perfect.

“The 2011 general elections were not perfect and there is tremendous scope for improvement,” he told the commission’s Public Affairs Officers at the opening of a two-day retreat in Kaduna State. Jega also said that INEC’s conduct of the last voter registration was fraught with many inadequacies.

The INEC boss, however, said that due to the observed lapses in the conduct of both the last voter registration and the 2011elections, the commission had embarked on re-organisation and restructuring.

He also assured Nigerians that INEC would adhere strictly to the provisions of the Electoral Act in its conduct of future elections in the country. Represented by the INEC’s chairman in charge of  Information and Publicity Committee of the Commission, Prince Solomon Soyebi, the INEC boss noted that transparent and credible election was possible with the cooperation of all the stakeholders.

He, therefore, charged the commission’s PAOs to use the retreat/workshop as an avenue for identifying the lapses that attended the conduct of both the voter registration and the 2011 general elections with a view to coming up with suggestions on how to address them against future polls.Jega stressed that it was by so doing that the commission could meet the aspirations of Nigerians for credible conduct of future elections.

He said, “This retreat should therefore provide an unfettered and unhindered opportunity for you to point out the lapses that attended these two major projects and to suggest how we can correct them so that we can meet the aspirations of  Nigerians for free, fair, transparent and credible elections. Thankfully, as PAOs, you interface with our publics/stakeholders more than any group of officers in the commission.

“The commission appreciates that the task of delivering elections that are transparent and credible is a Herculean one, given our pedigree as a nation, context and deprivations. We believe, however, that with the support of all stakeholders and the commission’s irrevocable determination, this task is do-able and achievable.

“As image makers, you must continue to communicate this resolve to our stakeholders and persuade them to subscribe to it. You must let the world know, in clear terms, that at the new commission, it is no longer business as usual and that henceforth, the commission would conduct itself strictly by the rules that govern the electoral process.”…(read more)

Bayelsa Poll: PDP Submits Dickson’s Name to INEC

As part of its efforts to meet the December 11 deadline for political parties to submit the names of their candidates for the February 11, 2012 governorship election in Bayelsa State, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday submitted the name of Hon. Henry Sierake Dickson as its governorship candidate.

 

Also, Governor Aliyu Wamakko of Sokoto State, Senator Abubakar Gada and former Minister of Sports, Alhaji Yousuf Sulieman, will face the PDP governorship screening committee in Kaduna today ahead of the party’s primary election.

 

Though the PDP is still at the Court of Appeal over the validity of the election of Dickson as its candidate and the hearing will hold December 12, the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) at its meeting on Wednesday directed that the name of Dickson be forwarded to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) immediately.

 

According to the Electoral Act 2010 as amended, political parties are expected to submit the names of their respective flag bearers not later than 60 days to the election date.

 

Governor Timipre Sylva of Bayelsa State, who was disqualified from contesting the governorship primary election, has gone to a Federal High Court challenging his disqualification.

 

Though the PDP conducted its primary won by Dickson won, Sylva prayed the court to annul the election, a decision that made the PDP through its National Legal Adviser, Chief Olusola Oke, to appeal for the stopping of proceedings at the Federal High Court presided by Justice G.O. Kolawole on the ground that no court can stop the primary election of any political party.

 

Both parties to the matter have submitted their written briefs to the Court of Appeal and it is expected for the court to decide on the substantive appeal on December 12.

 

It was gathered that Dickson’s name was submitted with retired Rear Admiral Jonah Gboriibiogha John as his running mate.

 

Also, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has chosen a lawyer, Kamela Okara, to fly its flag in the governorship election. Meanwhile, all the three governorship aspirants that purchased the Sokoto state governorship election nomination forms are expected to appear before a five-man screening committee in Kaduna today.

(read more)

Rivers: Sekibo loses seat as Appeal Court orders rerun

The Court of Appeal sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, yesterday upheld the judgment of the Election Petitions Tribunal which had nullified the election of Senator George Sekibo who represented Rivers East Senatorial District at the National Assembly.

Sekibo had appealed against the judgment of the tribunal.

Justice Mohammed Dattijo, who read the unanimous judgement by the three- man panel of judges, threw out his appeal for lack of merit and ordered a re- run  of the election within 90 days.

The senatorial candidate of the Action Alliance Party, Pastor Michael Atata, had approached the Elections Petition tribunal for nullification of the result of the last senatorial election in the area on the ground that he was unlawfully excluded from the poll.

He had argued at the tribunal that in spite of a ruling by a Federal High Court, in Abuja that the election be postponed to accommodate his party’s name and logo in the ballot paper for the exercise, the Independent National Electoral Election, INEC, went ahead to conduct same.

The lower tribunal which gave its ruling last month nullified the election and also ordered a fresh election in the area within 90 days but Senator Sekibo appealed against the judgement and was granted accelerated hearing.

More Sylva aides resign

The camp of Governor Timipre Sylva has continued to suffer some setbacks following resignations of some members of his cabinet.

The Chairman of the State Board for Internal Revenue, Mr. Solomon Apreala, on Wednesday abandoned his job, citing political reasons.

Our correspondent learnt that the resignation of Apreala made it three the number of key cabinet members of Sylva administration that had left their jobs.

The Commissioner for Youths, Conflict Resolution and Employment Generation, Mr. Etifa Bekeakpo and the Special Adviser on Interparty Relations, Mr. Stephen Diver, had earlier resigned their appointments.

While Sylva immediately appointed his Special Adviser on Legal Education, Mr. Fitzegerald Olorogun, to replace Bekeakpo, he has yet to fill other vacant offices. But it was learnt that Apreala resignation had further unsettled the camp of Sylva.

Apreala had in a buildup to the April general elections incurred the wrath of Sylva following an allegation that he was funding his younger brother’s ambition to become a member of the state House of Assembly on the platform of the Labour Party.

 

 

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Lagos polls: Obanikoro Sues ACN Council Chairman over Poll Result

Chairmanship candidate under the platform of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for Ikoyi/Obalende Local Council Development Area (LCDA in the last local council election, Babajide Obanikoro, has dragged winner of the election, Adewale Adeniyi of the Action Congress Party (ACN) before the Local Government Election Petitiond Tribunal sitting in Ikeja.

 

The petition could not be heard following the defendant’s application that they be given time to study the documents in order to reply appropriately.

The tribunal Chairman, Justice Dolapo Akinsanya adjourned hearing in the petition till December 20 this year.

 

The tribunal, in its ruling read by Mr. Dave Ajetomobi, also directed the counsel to parties to file their applications in the matter by way of motion on notice to the tribunal before the next date of hearing.

Earlier, counsel to Obanikoro, Chief Bolaji Ayorinde (SAN), had told the tribunal to use its discretion to determine their petition since the  respondent have failed to file their response.

 

Chief Ayorinde argued that the LG electoral laws provides for seven days for the respondents to file their response.

But counsel to Adeniyi, Mr. Olushina Sofola (SAN) objected to the application.

 

Sofolan argued that the application was not properly done as it was not a formal application as required by the law.

He explained that they have not filed their response because they needed more time to study the documents and to file a good response.

 

He urged the tribunal to extend the time within which to file their response in the interest of fairness and justice.

ACN appeals against ruling on Kwara guber elections

The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has filed an 18-ground notice of appeal at the Kwara State division of the Appeal Court, Ilorin, asking the court to set aside the ruling of the governorship election tribunal.

The tribunal dismissed the petition of ACN’s Mohammed Dele Belgore (SAN) and upheld the election of Governor Abdulfattah Ahmed.

The notice of appeal, dated November 25 and signed by ACN’s team of lawyers led by legal luminary Ebun Sofunde (SAN), said the tribunal erred in law in upholding the objections of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that ACN pleaded vague averments upon which no evidence could be led.

The ACN insists that the position of the law, backed by several authorities, is that a party that complains of vague or generic pleadings should request further and better particulars, failing which “he shall be taken to require no further particulars or direction and is stopped from complaining with any alleged vague or general nature of the pleadings”.

ACN, which said its petition rested squarely on documentary evidence, also argued that the trial court acted strangely and against the law when it pronounced all the several thousands of documents tendered as inadmissible simply because the INEC officer did not sign them in long-hand.

The party said the position of the court was strange because none of the respondents, including INEC and the PDP, challenged the authenticity of those documents, which the tribunal itself admitted had an engraved signature of the officer, the date of certification and evidence that they were Certified True Copies (CTCs).

The ACN is also asking the appeal court to determine whether the tribunal acted rightly in failing to act on its own finding, after it ordered a recount of the ballot papers used in the disputed areas, that there were indeed at least 21,192 bogus, non-existent votes in the result INEC declared.

The notice read in part: “The contention of the petitioners was that there was an excess of 21,192 ballot papers recorded as having been used in the Forms EC8As tendered in evidence. Having accepted that there was the discrepancy alleged, the tribunal ought to have acted on that finding to hold that the integrity of the election in the affected areas had been severely impugned”.

The party also said the tribunal erred in law “in holding that it was not enough for the petitioners to tender the public documents that were relied upon but that they ought to have gone further to speak to them and, therefore, failing to give full and proper effect to them. Given the (statutory) nature of the documents and their contents, the tribunal was entitled to act on them once they were tendered.

“In any event the documents were spoken to by evidence called both in-chief and through cross-examination, as well as in the written submissions”.

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